MARSHALL?- John Gochenouer, a business administration professor at Southwest Minnesota State University, wishes all his students were like the ones in his Senior College current events class - enthusiastic and appreciative.
"I'm always a little nervous - they demand that I know something," he joked.
The current events class is one of the offerings at the fall session of Senior College and a popular one - 50 students crammed into the social science classroom at SMSU. Forty of those students took the class last year.
Photo by Karin Elton
Senior College student Dave Taylor of Marshall listens as John Gochenouer, a business administration professor at Southwest Minnesota State University, talks about major national and world events Wednesday at SMSU.
This year one of the hot topics for discussion was the root causes of the current uprisings in Muslim countries over the movie "Innocence of Muslims."
The movie has been partially shown in clips on YouTube, but there are other anti-religion postings on the Internet - why is this movie a touchstone? Gochenouer said the difference was this laughable, poorly-made movie was translated by "somebody in Egypt" to Arabic so it could be viewed by more people who don't speak English.
"Fifty-six percent of Arabic women are illiterate and the men are not much better," Gochenouer said.
Gochenouer said the movie can be presented to a lot of people who are illiterate. He maintains the protests in multiple countries are contrived.
"Pakistan had to declare a national holiday so they could protest," he said.
"Why are they protesting?" he said. "The Koran, the Muslim faith forbids imagery, depictions of Muhammad."
Gochenouer said the proscription is "to keep you from worshipping idols."
"Who is protesting?" he said. "Sixty percent of Muslims are under 25. Fixty-six of the women cannot read or write. Their government has to approve all media. The only 'free' news they get is over the Internet. Unemployment in the Middle East is 23 percent. Seventeen percent live on less than $2 per day - in the richest countries in the world. None of the protests were by more than 10,000 people."
In other words, he said, the rioters have "nothing to do. Maybe if we break a shop window we'll get something."
Gochenouer added that these small protests "pale by comparison to Muslim sect violence - Muslim vs. Muslim conflicts."
Gochenouer said the protests are a "struggle against modern life," which is going on in the United States as well with intelligent design or creationism followers vs scientists.
"They (Muslims) are struggling with it and so are we - but we're not killing people," he said.
Gochenouer said Muhammed was illiterate, so his words were not written down.
"They had an oral tradition which meant it had to be memorized," he said. "If we could convince them it's OK to read and write, maybe they could learn about other religions."
Gochenouer believes that education is the key to achieving a more peaceful world in which we can all live. In addition, the United States should spend more money on foreign aid - building schools - and less on materials of war.
"One percent of the budget is foreign aid," he said.